Who Dat Lobbyist?

Back in Washington, the revolving door is alive and well when it comes to individuals leaving government service to lobby on behalf of the very industries they once regulated.  The same seems to hold true at the State Capitol in Santa Fe.

The agenda for last week’s meeting of the interim Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee featured a presentation by James O’Neill, a former assistant secretary and tax policy director for the state Department of Taxation and Revenue.  The topic of his talk:  Personal Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax Proposals-Council on State Taxation Ranking.

In his talk, O’Neill pitched three revisions to Tax Administration Act and the Corporate Income Tax Act, arguing that these suggested “fixes would increase our score” on the COST scorecard and aid economic development.

The COST to which he referred is the Council on State Taxation, a Washington-based trade association made up of nearly 600 multistate corporations engaged in interstate and international business.  COST was formed in 1969 under the sponsorship of the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, an organization still closely linked to COST.

COST’s membership is a veritable who’s who of corporate America, including 7-Eleven Inc., Aetna, Altria (formerly Phillip Morris), Aztra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bank of America, Best Buy, BP America Inc, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Comcast, Conoco Phillips, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, Intel, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Temper Pedic, Verizon, Wal-Mart, Waste Management Inc., Wendy’s — just to name a few.

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Keller: Why Not A Tax Expenditure Budget?

No one would expect a state to operate without following a budget that says exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out, would they?

Well, the money that states spend on tax credits, deductions and exemptions is just as much of an expense for them as direct spending on things like schools, salaries, roads and prisons is.

So why isn’t the state of New Mexico required to track tax-related expenses with a tax expenditure budget?

Senator Tim Keller

Senator Tim Keller

Sen. Tim Keller (D-Alb) would like to know.

Keller has written a bill that would force the state Tax and Revenue Department to track and report the cost and benefits associated with what studies have indicated are billions of dollars in New Mexico tax expenditures.

The list of such measures include everything from the state film incentive to 47 categories of gross receipts tax exemptions on items like fuel, livestock and food. Some are fairly new and well known, while others have been allowed to remain on the books for years without evaluation.

A total of 43 states (including the District of Columbia) file some kind of tax expenditure budget, but not all of them follow a strict protocol that maximize their effectiveness.

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